Former divisional king Silva could bounce right back into the frame with a strong showing on Friday, 13 August, while rising star Miao might earn a spot in the division’s top five for the first time if he can take out the #5-ranked contender.
Although both men possess well-stocked arsenals, they will have very different game plans to achieve success. Here are four keys to victory in this matchup from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
#1 Silva’s Attacks From Top Position
By his own admission, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion must follow the strategy he’s put in place with his coaches at Evolve, and that is to get things to the ground — ideally in top position.
Silva has strong single- and double-leg takedowns that work more effectively when he sets them up with punches, but he is also effective at creating opportunities to bring the action to the canvas by catching kicks or pushing his rivals to the Circle Wall.
From top position, “Little Rock’s” guard-passing is world class, and the more he can progress and dominate positionally, the more finishing options will be open to him.
But following back-to-back split-decision losses by the tiniest of margins against reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and #4 contender Hiroba Minowa, the Singapore-based Brazilian should also be focused on attacking more with his ground-and-pound to ensure the judges are rewarding him for that dominance.
This could be the difference in what is expected to be a closely contested bout.
#2 Miao’s Clever Boxing
Miao has a well-rounded style that allows him to adapt depending on the strengths of his opponent. Against Silva, his ferocious fists and defensive wrestling will have to take center stage.
The Chinese athlete has employed those elements with success in recent contests, especially against another Evolve foe in Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada back in April. He stuffed 20 of 23 takedown attempts by the Japanese star at “ONE on TNT III” and cruised to a decision win.
Miao needs to dip back into that blueprint, but be even more vigilant. He can be drawn into toe-to-toe exchanges that make him more static, and “Little Rock” would seek to exploit those with his takedowns.
Instead, the Sunkin International Fight Club standout needs to stay on his toes and keep pumping out his jab, along with sharp straight rights, to stay inside of Silva’s looping setup punches.
He also must resist the urge to kick or knee too often, which would offer Silva the chance to latch onto a lower limb — something that caused Pacio problems when he defended his World Title against the Brazilian at ONE: FIRE & FURY in January 2020.
Rather, the Chinese juggernaut should hit, move, and try to catch Silva with uppercuts coming in, so he can still sprawl and pummel for underhooks if he needs them.
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#3 Silva All-In For A Ground Battle
While being on top offers more chances to control and subdue an opponent, “Little Rock” needs to get things to the mat by any means necessary.
The Brazilian is not afraid to pull guard in order to initiate a ground battle, and this should be his second option if his takedown attempts fail.
Miao owns strong wrestling and heavy hips, so rather than continuing with a double-leg attempt that’s gone awry, Silva can enter and then pull back to bring the Chinese man to the ground with him.
From there, the former titleholder has a lot of potent options. He’s capable of executing various submission attacks from guard — including his trademark armbar — and could utilize his savvy leg lock game. Also, he can sweep to top position from butterfly guard or deep half guard.
With various ways to finish from underneath and the ability to revert to plan A by reversing to get on top, the Brazilian can still thrive even if he doesn’t get Miao on his back first.
#4 Miao Going Against His Instincts
Miao is an aggressive competitor by nature, and he likes to attack with strikes either standing or grounded, but he should back off and steer clear of raining down punches from the top if Silva pulls guard.
While this may go against his ingrained sensibilities, all of the Brazilian’s attacks from his back become redundant if the 28-year-old disengages at the first opportunity.
Learning from Pacio — who spent some time punching inside Silva’s guard and then got swept or had to defend leg attacks — Miao needs to recognize when the Evolve representative is bailing on a takedown attempt and trying to drag him into his guard.
Then, the Chinese phenom can step away and force Silva back up to his feet, where his concussive punches can come back into play as he tries to score an emphatic, career-defining victory.